Monday, November 24, 2008

Off Topic: Twilight Movie

So I can't help myself... I have to post something about the Twilight movie.

First, I will say that I have read all the books and I'm not gonna lie to you... I love them. They are not lovely examples of fine writing, but the series has done for YA lit what Harry Potter did for children's lit; Twilight brought books into pop-culture, teen boys and girls alike are gaga for the books, and kids who have never read a book longer than 100-200 pages are eating up these l-o-n-g tomes.

I have been hearing so many people rip into this movie. I have a bunch of friends in their late 20s who feel like they have the inside scoop on what makes a movie great... you know the type. These are the people who like to sit around with a glass of wine and talk about how much better it would have been if (insert obscure director's name here) had directed it. They talk about how unrealistic it is, about how stupid the vampires' makeup looked, how cheesy some of the lines were, how wooden the acting was...

But do you know what I say? I say WHO CARES! Truly. I know it wasn't a perfect movie... heck it wasn't even a great movie. But neither were the books and that doesn't stop the YA Librarian and avid teen fiction reader in me from loving them! The movie really got one thing right: it will appeal to the target audience, TEENS. Teens in the theater were swooning at every appearance of Edward (actually my 26 year old sister was swooning too), they cheered during the baseball scene, they giggled when Bella and Edward were kissing. Some of the lines from the book have become almost a cult secret language; you know, the lion laid down with the lamb stuff. Even though it was cheesy on film, it was really important to fans of the book; I'm glad they left it in.

I am happy to hear that New Moon has been green-lighted. I truly hope they get a bigger budget for the film so the special effects are more believable. Also, as I live in the Pacific Northwest, I hope they continue filming it in our gorgeous location! What I hope the most, however, is that all the adults who are tearing Twilight into shreds go easier on New Moon. It's a teen movie! I'm definitely not saying that makes it less of an art, I am just saying you can't judge it with the same criteria you use for movies with an older target audience.

What did you think??

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jellicoe Road-- Melina Marchetta

I finished reading Jellicoe Road about five days ago, but I have been waiting for some inspiration before I posted about it on my blog.

The inspiration hasn't really come to me yet.

Still, this was a GOOD BOOK. So I owe it some type of conversation, right? Then why can't I muster up excitement to spread the word about it? Hmmm.... anyway, about the book: Jellicoe Road takes place in Australia, at a boarding school. It is mostly narrated by Taylor, the protagonist, but the story of four teenagers who went to the Jellicoe School a generation prior is interspersed throughout the story. Taylor was abandoned by her drug addicted mother at a 7-11 on Jellicoe Road when she was very young. The school housemother, Hannah, took her in and raised her, yet somehow always kept her at arms length. Now a senior, Taylor is in charge of her dorm. She has been selected as the school's representative for the Territory Wars that happen ever year between the townies, boarding school students, and the cadets who participate in outdoor school/wilderness training on the Jellicoe School property. Even though she is supposed to be leading her school to victory, Taylor can't get past her mysterious family history, the emotions she feels toward Hannah and the leader of the Cadets, and her own personal drama.

Overall, this story is well-written and interesting, but somehow I don't see many teens being drawn to it. Taylor is a character teens might like, but the way Marchetta intersperses the secondary story of the four teens from the past gets a little fuzzy and confusing. Until about the last quarter of the book, the secondary story is not compelling and slows the pace of the book somewhat. That being said, I did enjoy this book (being a graduate of a boarding school high school, I always like reading books that take place in boarding schools) but would only recommend it to teens who are good readers and who like to really think about what they are reading. Teens who liked Marchetta's Saving Francesca, Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell, and maybe Green's Looking for Alaska and Rosoff's What I Was migh enjoy this book.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Black Box-- Julie Schumacher

Black Box is one of those books that adults want teens to read... and in this case, because of the cover art and the length (under 200 pages), I'll bet that teens actually pick this book up. Black Box is told from the perspective of Elena, but it's really a story about her sister Dora who is suffering from severe depression. Elena and Dora used to be inseparable before Dora became depressed, and Elena takes it upon herself to become her sister's guardian. After Dora attempts suicide, and her parents finally take her condition seriously, Elena is forced to rediscover her own identity. She needs to separate herself from her sister's condition, and find a way to love Dora without taking on her problems. Thanks to a surprisingly supportive relationship with the town screw-up, and to the strength she finds inside herself, Elena finds her way out of the dark place she traveled while absorbing the suffering of her sister Dora.

This story is a really honest portrayal of depression. Julie Schumacher worked hard to not overromanticize depression or falsely depict it for the sake of fiction. This is definitely not an uplifting story, but it has an honestly that teens will appreciate. I would recommend this book to teens who like real life stories about hardships growing up, maybe those who like Child Called It, Ellen Hopkin's books, even Go Ask Alice (yes teens still read this!!), or Vizzini'z It's Kindof a Funny Story.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How They Met and other stories-- David Levithan

I am pretty picky when it comes to short stories... so many of them read like novels that didn't really work, so the author turned the piece into a short story. I was very pleased to find that David Levithan's collection was quite good. Levithan really seems to get what makes a short story appealing to readers. Even though some were more captivating than others, each story in How They Met had a unique tone and good character development. (My personal favorite was Starbucks Boy).

Levithan says at the beginning of this book that these are stories about love, not love stories. I would have to agree... love stories makes me think about romance, while stories about love makes me think of relationships. And, in each of his stories, relationships between friends, lovers, family, etc are the key element.

Although I am not a huge fan of his other work, with the notable exception of the two books he cowrote with Rachel Cohn (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Eli's No Kiss List), I can easily recommend this book with few reservations. Levithan is known for writing novels with gay characters, but this book talks about all types of relationships, including hetero and homosexual, and many things in-between. Because of this, I believe this short story collection will reach a wider variety of readers than some other collections I have read in the past.

Teens who liked Julie Anne Peters' Girl to Girl, Francesca Lia Block's Blood Roses, 21 Proms and This is Push: stories from the edge (both edited by Levithan), or Meg Cabot's Prom Nights from Hell should enjoy this book. I would also recommend How They Met to fans of Cohn and Levithan's cowriten novels, readers of romance in general, and readers who appreciate not-so-mainstream lovestories.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jessica's Guide to Datingon the Dark Side-- Beth Fantaskey

I wonder if I am going to get hate-comments about this post.

What can I say about Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side? Apparently most of the librarians on my listserves just love this book. I, however, did not love it. It is all trendy YA themes lumped into a novel: Vampires? Check. Embarrassing hippy parents? Got 'em. Slutty BFF? Yup. Weak and annoying heroine who becomes strong and self-assured at the end thanks to a man? Right here!

Maybe I am just spoiled because I have read so many good books for our Mock Printz event recently, but the last few books I have read just aren't wowing me.

Still, teens who haven't grown sick of over-played YA themes might want to take a bite outa this book (the puns, the puns, they're killing me!). I would recommend this book to teen girls who enjoy vampire fiction, specifically vampire fiction like: Fendi, Ferragamo, and Fangs, Dating for Demons, Dead is the New Black, the Mary Janice Davidson vampire books, etc.